North Carolina runs by Notre Dame, 73-62
Matthew DeFranks | Saturday, February 8, 2014
North Carolina revved up the pace and left Notre Dame in the dust during a 73-62 Tar Heel victory Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
The Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4 ACC) used a turnover-fueled 10-3 run to start the second half to pull away from the Irish (12-12, 3-8). Notre Dame had four turnovers in less than four minutes and North Carolina turned the miscues into eight points.“They picked up their ball pressure a lot,” Irish senior guard Eric Atkins said. “They made it hard for us to make simple passes to the wing and really pressed up on everyone. It was just tough to move out there the way they were pressuring the ball.”
Notre Dame turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 23 North Carolina points.
“Well there’s no question that turnovers are a big part of our game because we like to run the ball,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “In the open court, we make some good decisions and I think that led to some good basketball and some good shots around the basket.”
Notre Dame is now 0-5 in ACC when turning the ball over more than 10 times. This was the third time in the last four games the Irish had 12 or more giveaways.
“To see us kick that thing around like that, you go back to the drawing board here this afternoon,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “What do we need to do offensively to simplify so we can take better care of the basketball? If there’s one thing to point to, that’s been the dagger for us.”
After leading by four at halftime, the Tar Heels opened up an 11-point lead after consecutive fast break dunks by sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto and junior forward James Michael McAdoo gave them a 37-26 edge less than four minutes into the second half.
North Carolina, who has now won five straight, did not have any fast break points in the first half but scored six transition points before the 16:00 mark of the second half.
“When you turn the ball over at your own 3-point line, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your transition D,” Brey said. “They’re really good in transition, they got a lot of easy ones.”
The Tar Heels made the easy ones worth watching, too. Of North Carolina’s first seven made field goals of the second half, four were dunks.
“It’s embarrassing,” Irish graduate student center Garrick Sherman said. “They shouldn’t be getting easy buckets like that.
“If they’re going to shoot layups and dunks, we’re going to get beat by every team, not just North Carolina.”
North Carolina beat Notre Dame up inside, outscoring the Irish 44-26 in the paint.
McAdoo led the Tar Heels with 18 points and eight rebounds. He was one of four North Carolina players in double-figures.
“They have a lot of big bodies,” Brey said. “They always have. That program always has. You gotta take the edge off the paint stuff a little bit to have a chance.
“When you have the number of bodies on that front line, they pound on you. Like a running football team, it kind of takes its toll as they rotate those guys through there.”
Notre Dame also allowed 15 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second chance points.
Sherman led the Irish with 17 points while Atkins added 12 and sophomore forward Zach Auguste and freshman forward V.J. Beachem each chipped in 10.
Notre Dame jumped out to an early 13-4 lead after knocking down five of its first seven shots. North Carolina, meanwhile, hit just two of its first 10.
“We had a great start to the game,” Atkins said. “They were playing at our pace. A big part of that was we weren’t turning the ball over. We were being very good and efficient with the ball.”
The Irish, who shoot 35.9 percent on 3-pointers, made their first four 3-pointers but missed 15 of their next 17 attempts from downtown.
After Tokoto made a layup just six seconds into the game, the Tar Heels did not score for the next 5:08 when Tokoto slammed home a thunderous dunk.
“I think we came out a little bit more awake than they were,” Sherman said. “We kind of started out fast and we were able to get back in transition. We kept everything in front of us.”
After back-to-back 3-pointers by junior forward Pat Connaughton and freshman guard Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame led 19-10 with 8:36 left in the first half. But the Tar Heels closed the half on a 17-4 run to take a four-point lead into the break.
“The end of the half, they really played great and that was tough to swallow because we had been playing pretty darn well,” Brey said.
North Carolina shot just 36 percent in the first half but outscored the Irish 20-4 in the paint. The Tar Heels shot 54 percent in the second half.
Notre Dame managed to trim the deficit to single digits late in the second half when Beachem’s put back capped an 8-0 Irish run that cut the North Carolina lead to eight with 4:26 remaining.
The Tar Heels ripped off eight of the next 10 points to quell the Irish rally.
Notre Dame will take on Clemson on Tuesday night while North Carolina hosts Duke on Wednesday.